Slumdog Millionaire


When you get to the eye scene, try not to freak out.   Hold on tight and stay put, because things will get better, I promise.

The man who gave the world Trainspotting has produced Slumdog Millionaire, this let’s-not-mince-words story about the picaresque life a young slum-dwelling boy, Jamal, who has been poor and running from trouble since he was a small kid playing cricket on an airport runway with his elder brother and chums, only to be chased away and hunted by cops.  

Simon Beaufoy, the writer, fashions the tale into an adventure, a la The Three Musketeers sans the swords, and  there are multiple references to Dumas’ tale, except in this telling, the third member of the trio is a girl, Latika, similarly orphaned during communal riots.   The three form a lifelong, and sometime tortuous, bond throughout the film.   She grows into a beauty (Freida Pinto), and Jamal’s story is really, at its core, his fight to find her.

New-to-movies Dev Patel from England plays the eldest version of Jamal with a sleepy, low-key, self assurance, a deliberate contrast to the twitchy energy the gorgeously pouty Madhur Mittal brings to his rendering of Jamal’s elder brother, Salim.

Irrfan Khan and Mahesh Manjrekar very solidly round out the filmi cast.

And whatever you do, don’t miss the closing credits!

See it or skip it  

See it!   See it!   See it!  

I don’t know if this would be considered praise for a film, but at some point early on while watching it, it dawned on me that I had long since forgotten the film was made by a foreigner.   It has a few difficult scenes to watch – one in in particular when the brothers are small kids – that caused a perceptible flinch-and-recoil of everyone at the screening.   This might be a moment where some viewers consider getting up and leaving because it’s all too much, but they should stay, because that’s not what the film is about.   Ultimately, it is not all bleak and there is actually joy and there is hope.  
And as someone who enjoyed both the AB and SRK versions of KBC, I loved the way Danny Boyle used the questions of the game show as jumping off points to tell Jamal’s story, and wait ’til you see how wonderfully unctuous Anil Kapoor is as the host!

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